The rabbis said that if you want to know G-d, you should study the “aggadah” – the stories about G-d that are in the Talmud and Midrash.  If you want, we can study them together.

Meditation can be an important tool.  It certainly has been for me.

Visualization can also be a great help in really feeling G-d’s Presence.  I can help you with that, too, if you want.

You might have to try more than one thing, more than once, to see what helps you the most.  That would be your own, special pilgrimage, without ever having to go too far from where you live.

But, the simplest way to begin, as Rebbe Nachman of Breslav taught us, is: Just begin talking to G-d.  Do it privately, in a place where you can feel relaxed, and not be interrupted.  Going out where there are trees, and not so many houses or roads or people might be very helpful, too.  Don’t try to “understand” G-d, or even necessarily to “feel” G-d’s Nearness.  Just talk, in the same natural way you would talk to anyone who was willing to give you undivided, nonjudgmental attention.  Rebbe Nachman really didn’t give a lot of directions about how to do this.  That confused me for a long time, until I realized that he was trying to say: “Just keep it simple and sincere.”  You don’t necessarily have to begin with the belief that G-d has the answers to all of your problems.  Just start with the idea that you might not have all the answers, either, but you’re willing to see what G-d and you might come up with, together.

You can talk out loud, if that helps.  That’s what Rebbe Nachman suggested.  You can even yell.  But, as the Talmud says, G-d hears you even if you whisper your prayers behind a stone pillar.  Torah says, with regard to Sarah, that G-d even knows your thoughts.  Talking might help keep it from becoming “daydreaming,” though, and give you more of a sense that you’re “dialogue-ing” with something, or someone, other than yourself.

Let it be spontaneous, too.  You don’t have to practice what you’re going to say.  You don’t have to be “eloquent” – “No literary flourishes need apply.”  Just say what you want to say.

You might find, in the process, that your perspective changes, or that you start off talking about one thing, and find yourself talking about another.  That’s OK, too.  The fewer the rules, the better.  It’s OK to let things pop into your mind.  Those ideas can be G-d’s way of speaking to you; of answering you.  Maybe, it’s one way that G-d has of just letting you know that you’re both there, together.

Rabbi Shalom Arush has written a book about this, “In Forest Fields.” It’s a terrific book about private, personal prayer — a topic not discussed in Jewish learning often enough. But keep in mind that this book is based on Rabbi Arush’s own experiences, too. Yours might differ. The main thing: Keep it simple.

If you like, try it for a while and see if it helps.  I’d be very interested to hear about your experiences.